Preview – Round of 16: Asia’s finest ready to continue FIFA Futsal World Cup challenge

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AFC – KUALA LUMPUR, Asia will have full representation in the FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2021 Round of 16 after all five teams advanced from the group stage.

Uzbekistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran sealed qualification after finishing as runners-up in Groups B and F respectively while Thailand (Group C), Vietnam (Group D), and Japan (Group E) advanced as three of the best four third-placed finishers. 

While Uzbekistan and IR Iran will be involved in an all-Asian affair, Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam will face some of the world’s best. 

A clash between two heavyweights with IR Iran’s domination of Asian futsal making them the pre-match favourites.

Iran are 12-time Asian champions while Uzbekistan have emerged runners-up on four occasions but neither will be focused on history when they square off on Friday with both aiming to extend their respective campaigns.

IR Iran are determined to better their third-placed finish from 2016 while Uzbekistan, eliminated at the group stage in their debut appearance five years ago, want to chart more history after qualifying for the Lithuania 2021 knockout rounds.

Both have the players to carry them through with Uzbekistan’s Ikhtiyor Ropiev (three) and IR Iran’s Ahmad Esmaeilpour (two) to power the challenge in what is sure to be a classic between two of Asia’s finest sides.

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